The August 18-25 double issue of Newsweek, whose theme is “The Future of Technology”, contains a brief interview with Paul Saffo, identified only as being from the Institute For the Future. Asked “are there any obstacles to innovation?” Saffo responds “We’ve got a couple of gorillas holding back innovation. Microsoft is a big intellectual roach motel. All the big minds go in and they don’t come out.”
Of course Saffo doesn’t address the question of what alternatives the big minds have. If they want to work at a software products company and have a reasonable chance of getting their creation into the hands of customers, the choices pretty much boil down to Microsoft or some company that is likely to be put out of business soon by Microsoft.
[Of course there are quite a few programmers, as distinct from engineers, who are happy with a warm cubicle and a fat salary even if they have no impact on users or their employer’s profits. Sadly, however, in an age where spectacular managerial incompetence continues to be the norm it seems that many managers have gotten smart enough to eliminate tech jobs that aren’t directly profitable.]